Johnson Outdoors acquires Jetboil

Another day, another acquisition in the outdoor industry. On Wednesday, Jetboil became the latest of more than a dozen outdoor brands to be scooped up this year. Find out how the brand fits in with its new owner Johnson Outdoors.
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Another day, another acquisition in the outdoor industry. On Wednesday, Jetboil became the latest of more than a dozen outdoor brands to be scooped up this year.

Racine, Wis.-based Johnson Outdoors, which is publically traded (Nasdaq:JOUT), announced it closed a deal to acquire the privately held outdoor cooking systems brand for a yet-to-be-disclosed amount.

Jetboil, which was founded in 2004, will become part of Johnson’s Outdoor Gear business unit, but remain headquartered at its home in Manchester, N.H., officials said. The company employs 35 people. No word yet on any widespread employment changes, but at the top Jetboil co-founder and CEO Perry Dowst will transition to the role of senior advisor, supporting strategic research and development and new products. Moving ahead, Business Director Steven Brooks wil leading Jetboil, reporting to Bill Kelly, group vice president for outdoor gear and watercraft at Johnson.

The acquisition of Jetboil will broaden Johnson’s camping portfolio, joining its lineup of Eureka tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, camping furniture and lighting products, along with its Silva compasses.

Johnson CEO Helen Johnson-Leipold said the company will look to expand Jetboil’s distribution and, at the same time, tap into Jetboil’s well-respected connections in the specialty retail market to present Johnson’s lineup of products.

Johnson's other significant outdoor business is on the watersports side, where it owns and operates brands such as Old Town canoes and kayaks, Ocean Kayak, Necky and Carlisle. Johnson also deals in marine electronics, diving equipment and military gear.

Jetboil revolutionized outdoor camp cooking with the introduction of its personal, compact, quick and easy-to-use cooking systems. SNEWS editors forecasted that Jetboil would be a hit soon after it debuted at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2003, and we gave the first consumer product high marks in 2004.

In the past few years, the company has worked to protect its patented cooking system technology, filing suit against rival brands in August 2010. While succeeding in other instances, it gave up the lawsuit fight against Primus and Brunton in May 2011, citing its time and money was better spent elsewhere.

Johnson's deal to acquire Jetboil was the second in two weeks in the camping kitchen category, following Katadyn's Nov. 2 aquisition of TyRy's camping food brands Natural High, Richmoor and AlpineAire. The recent deals join more than a dozen other acquisitions, mergers and spinoffs in the outdoor industry so far in 2012.

--David Clucas

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